Special Features

How challenges led to innovation in the surveying market

Peter Hughes | Gateway Surveyors
14th December 2020
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"As we developed the remote valuations, we knew that they would prove suitable for not only this trying time but also moving forward, in cases where access to a property is limited."

In surveying circles, 2020 has been a year like no other, demanding creative thinking and innovation throughout to ensure that surveyors play our part in supporting the continuing movement of the housing market.

Back at the start of the year, Gateway had planned to launch its Buyer Report, with the grand unveiling set for 1st April. However, that was not to be, as surveying services did something never seen before, other than on Christmas Day, in that it just… stopped. 

We took the time to apply some creative thinking to the very limited options we had to be able to support our clients, whether they were consumers or lenders, and this period saw the birth of our Zero Contact Property Valuations. As we developed the remote valuations, we knew that they would prove suitable for not only this trying time but also moving forward, in cases where access to a property is limited. As a result of their low carbon emissions, these products are very much in alignment with the current shift towards Environmental Social Governance (ESG) criteria, with many lenders now offering green mortgages.

The road back to the ‘new normal’ continues to present challenges, from ongoing uncertainty about restrictions to surveyors visiting houses looking like extras from Silent Witness, operating under a raft of rules and regulations designed to protect both the residents and the surveyors alike. However, we have resumed our planning for the future, and very recently released the Gateway Buyer Report.

Our team is committed to making a survey as painless and as positive a process as possible and it therefore made sense to review the surveying services we offered, to ensure that we were carrying our commitment through to practice. In order to make the Gateway Buyer Report as user friendly as possible, it uses a visual traffic light system to prioritise any required actions making the whole process clear and transparent. Where required, photographs of any significant defects will also be included to support in the understanding of the issue.

This report gives us the opportunity to return to balanced reporting. Without doubt, a survey should most definitely highlight any significant issues requiring attention, but in order to offer a prospective purchaser true peace of mind, it makes sense to also highlight areas of strength and acceptability which offers a much more rounded view of the property:

High priority action - now: Immediate action/urgent repair or further investigation before exchange of contracts.

Medium priority action - soon: Work required. Important but action/repair less urgent.

Low priority or no action - later: Minor repair/maintenance needed, or no attention required.

The past few months have been extremely challenging globally, with difficulties on both personal and professional levels for many. Undoubtably, the surveying sector has suffered during 2020, but we have also learned and adapted. We’ve seen creativity across the market at an unprecedented level, and I believe the innovations of the past few months – including Gateway’s Zero Contact Property Valuations and new Buyer’s Report – have indicated a bright future for both those working within the surveying sector, and consumers. 

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